• Member Since 7th Mar, 2013
  • offline last seen Feb 22nd, 2018

Midnight Rambler


I spend way too much time writing about writing, and way too little time actually writing.

More Blog Posts18

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  • 266 weeks
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Feb
22nd
2015

Post-Con Report: Hearth's Warming Con 2015 · 9:44pm Feb 22nd, 2015

Yesterday, I attended my first ever fan convention, which was also the first MLP convention ever to be held in the Netherlands: Hearth's Warming Con 2015!

Hearth's Warming Con – or HWcon for short – took place in the town of Hoofddorp, and it was a one-day event. Well, there was a pre-party on Friday evening, but I didn't attend because A) I had another party to go to and B) I neither felt like travelling to Hoofddorp twice in two days nor like spending money on a hotel. I missed most of the after-party yesterday evening, as well; I'd hung around there for a minute or ten when all the partying, convening, travelling, drinking, and precious little sleeping of the previous 36 hours caught up with me and I went home, exhausted.

Anyway, I feel like sharing some impressions from the convention itself. Here goes.

Location and venue

Hoofddorp (whose name means "head village"; the organisers had renamed it "Hoof-dorp" for the occasion) is not the most appealing place in the Netherlands, but it's right next to Schiphol Airport, which must have been convenient for international visitors. Besides, it's not like we were there for the sightseeing anyway. In an ideal world, all events in the Netherlands would be held in one of the bigger cities, within a few minutes' walk of the main railway station, but in this case that would just have driven ticket prices into the sky for no good reason.

The venue itself, Event Center Fokker, was more than adequate for the convention. It looked pretty small from outside, but in fact it was surprisingly spacious. The three floors provided plenty of room for everyone, and allowed several events to take place simultaneously.

Crowd

According to the convention's organisers, there were 300 people attending the con, which seemed about right by visual estimation. (By comparison, the regular meet-ups of the Dutch brony community usually attract around 100 people.)

The organisers' attempts to reach out to an international audience had been succesful: of course there were a lot of Dutch guests, but there were plenty of foreigners as well. Mostly, these were Germans – the organisers had enthusiastically promoted HWcon at Galacon, which had clearly paid off – but there was also a small group of Belgians, and even quite a few Czechs and Poles. Not bad for such a new, small convention.

I'd been looking forward to HWcon as an opportunity to catch up with some people I knew from earlier Dutch meet-ups. I'd been a rather... dormant member of the Dutch brony community the past few months, and this seemed like a good time to get back in touch. This was partially succesful; I did see many of the regular Dutch brony crowd again, but there were also quite a few notable absences. Oh well, maybe they were going through their own periods of dormancy.

And now for a PSA: I counted maybe one or two dozen fedoras at the con. Now, I have nothing against any individual fedora-wearer – I spoke with some of them and they seemed like pretty cool people – but for the love of Luna and Celestia, guys, STAHP. The fedora is an icon of smugness, of /r/atheism, of bitterness towards women and of really tacky attempts at "old-fashioned chivalry". People already associate bronydom with all of those things far too often; please stop feeding those perceptions.

Events I attended

Voice actresses' panel: After the opening ceremony, the first event was a panel with voice actresses Lizemijn Libgott (the Dutch voice of Fluttershy) and Anneli Heed (the Swedish voice of Sweetie Belle, Spike, Spitfire, Cadance, Chrysalis and a bunch of other characters). This was a really interesting and fun event; we learned a lot about the voice acting process, and both actresses came across as very friendly and approachable. It was really cool to hear Anneli sing a few lines from the "This Day Aria" in Swedish. :pinkiehappy: The only Swedish-language music I normally listen to is Sabaton and Finntroll, so this was quite a change.

Writers' panel: I should have been on that panel, dammit! Well, I have only myself to blame: like I said, I hadn't been very active in the Dutch brony community recently, so I hadn't paid attention to the HWcon preparations, either. Fortunately, the writers' panel was a small and informal event (there were maybe fifteen people, tops) so I had plenty of opportunities to actively take part in the discussion. Topics included worldbuilding, editing, Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, and plot structure. After spending so much time discussing pony fanfiction online – in forum posts, blog posts, reviews, etc. – it was awesome to talk about it face-to-face for a change. I want to give a big shout-out to the panelists: Niaeruzu, Rarity Belle, and Hyfnae. Thanks for sharing your opinions and advice, and I hope we'll have many more interesting discussions in the future! :twilightsmile:

Przewalski's Ponies: This Russian pony rock band played covers of "Winter Wrap-Up" and the "Smile Song", followed by quite a number of original MLP-themed songs. They may not have been the most technically skilled musicians (except for the drummer, who delivered an impressive performance) but they made up for that with infectious enthusiasm. They had a few dozen people, myself included, merrily dancing and jumping along. Fun was had by all.

Flash Fic Contest: An interesting challenge had been announced: write a fanfic within 45 minutes. However, there were only two or three people who seriously wanted to compete, myself included; also, the prompts had been lost due to a miscommunication between the jury and the HWcon organisers. Hence, instead of having a contest, everyone (the would-be jury as well as the would-be contestants) just sat down with pencil and paper and started fucking around. From my side, it resulted in 169 words of pure AIDS, written in a garbled mixture of Dutch, English, and German. Read them here... or maybe don't.

This improvised writing session was the most fun part of HWcon for me, by far.

Andrea Libman AMA: Near the end of the convention, it was time for a surprise butt-secks event. This turned out to be an AMA session with none other than Andrea Libman, the voice of Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie in the original American production. She wasn't physically present at HWcon; instead, she spoke with us through a Skype video call from Kamloops, Canada. (This little detail amused me because I'd actually visited Kamloops once. I never thought I'd hear of it ever again.)

Naturally, I asked her if she read fanfiction, and if yes, what her favourite stories were. She told me she doesn't, for three reasons:
– MLP is her job, so she doesn't want to read pony-related stuff in her spare time as well.
– She doesn't want any fanon to subconsciously seep into her own portrayal of Fluttershy and Pinkie.
– She doesn't want to run into clop or gore ('things I really don't want to read,' as she phrased it herself).

All very fair and understandable reasons. Someone else asked a far more intriguing question, though: if Angel Bunny could speak in the show, who would be his voice actor? Andrea's answer: 'Morgan Freeman.' :rainbowlaugh:

Many thanks to Andrea for answering our questions, and lots of respect to the HWcon staff for managing to set this up!

Events I didn't attend

I skipped the charity auction, because I didn't have a lot of money to spend, nor any strong desire for more pony merch. They raised € 1682 in total – pretty impressive for a convention with only 300 attendees.

I didn't join in the karaoke fun, either. This was partly because I wanted some time between events to just walk around and mingle, and partly because my voice was still suffering from the effects of the previous night's party.

Other events included a drawing workshop and contest (not my thing), a CCG workshop, and a cosplay contest. That last one was won by a German woman with a fabulously detailed Cadance costume (and really, anyone who'd seen her walking around could have told you that before the contest even started).

Technical difficulties

My main point of criticism concerns the many sound-related problems. No event goes by without some fumbling with the PA system, but this was a bit much. Opening ceremony? Delayed for almost an hour because of sound issues. Writers' panel? We had to resort to yelling at each other because they couldn't get the second-floor sound system to work at all. Przewalski's Ponies? Even after an extensive sound check, they constantly had to interrupt their show because not all instruments were coming through. Skype call with Andrea Libman? In most of the hall, it was hard to make out what Andrea was saying, due to the poor sound quality and low volume.

I've heard conflicting reports on who's to blame for all this (the venue staff, or the HWcon organisers themselves) and frankly I don't really care. All I know is that the next edition of Hearth's Warming Con – if there's going to be one – will have to get this part of its act together.

Final verdict

All in all, it was a fun convention. It was a pity it was so short (if you don't count the pre-party or the after-party, the whole thing was over in seven hours), but it's understandable that the organisers didn't want to take a large financial risk by hiring the venue for a longer time; after all, this was the first edition of HWcon, and they weren't sure how many tickets they could expect to sell. The ticket price (€ 29) was very reasonable for a one-day event, too. Really, apart from the sound issues mentioned above, I don't have anything to complain about. I hope there will be a Hearth's Warming Con 2016; I'm already looking forward! :pinkiehappy:

P.S.: While I was typing this, Rarity Belle also posted his HWcon report. Read it here.

P.P.S.S.: Yes, this means I didn't fulfill my ambition to have chapter 3 of Arsenal of Harmony up before HWcon. It's only about halfway done, maybe two-thirds if I'm generous. I'm not even going to try and set a new target date for this chapter, but attending this convention has definitely motivated me to take up the pen again, so who knows!

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Comments ( 3 )

Yay for ponies having fun!

Also, I hope the fanfiction panel wasn't too sloppy an event. It should be smoother next time. I'm glad you still got something out of it though. :3 (I assume you were the fellow on the front row loaded with several topics and questions?)

2824053 Check, that was me! And no worries, I had a lot of fun there. :pinkiehappy:

Where did you sit at the panel?

2824674 From your perspective, I was all the way on the right. Pretending to be the fearless host. ;D Thanks for your contributions!

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